“Learning never exhausts the mind.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Learning to programme is plus when it comes to working. There are plenty of sectors looking for people with knowledge of the PHP programming language.

Programming and creating a dynamic website on a server requires some knowledge of coding. That said, even if you’re not a programmer, you can learn more about web technologies. You just have to go for it!

Learning PHP (PHP functions, HTML files, web apps, etc.) allows you to create a web interface with special characters and automate the interactive elements.

To create a website, you need to start by testing the source code to make sure it’ll work online. Here’s how you can display your work in your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, etc.).

What’s a PHP File For?

PHP is a programming language that’s principally used for making websites. To reiterate, PHP allows you to create dynamic web pages and not static ones (like you can do with HTML and CSS).

A dynamic web page is one which adapts to the user, so the page displayed will be different to each person viewing it. This is good for member areas, for example, or sites with shopping functions. The page will display according to who’s signed in. Each page is, therefore, personal. Static pages, however, are the same for everyone (such as the homepage for a local gardener).

PHP is very useful for improving the user experience online. You need to use a web server as well as a browser in order to correctly code what displays on the screen.

PHP, contrary to what many beginners believe, is actually quite simple. You don’t need to have a degree in web development to learn how to code in PHP, if you keep reading you can find out how to teach yourself PHP using the web. However, it can take some getting used to so you will need to practice to become efficient. You need to follow each step one by one and start off with some easy things before moving onto the more advanced processes.

Once you start getting the hang of it, PHP can be used to develop websites and make them interactive and attractive. Learning to code in PHP is worth it!

Websites aren’t the only thing you can do with PHP. In addition to being used in HTML code, PHP can display images, PDF, text, and animation. There are plenty of things you can do with PHP.

So, in brief, what will I need to know?

Syntax, script, command lines, strings, database management, etc. There’s plenty you’ll need to know about PHP in order to create a dynamic website. The code will allow you to create a web page that can change depending on who’s using it, the time of day, etc. It’s often used to create member areas, as we've said, and is used alongside other languages like CSS and HTML.

What are PHP files for?
PHP is a programming language you can use for websites. (Source: hitesh0141)

Learning to programme (headers, HTML code, PHP script, database management, etc) can be done with PHP tutorials or by teaching yourself to create your own dynamic website. Adding HTML, configuring a host, etc. all require that you create an executable code.

To implement this code, you need to write a few lines of script. These lines tell the server what to do. This is how web developers can create personalised web pages. The PHP file includes all the code that makes up the web page. Developers often use digital notepads to create them.

Once you’ve created the file, you can open it in a programme. In this case, you’ll just see the code. You can also directly read the PHP file on a server or with a programme that’s emulating the server.

Find out more about integrating images with PHP.

Downloading a Programme to Read the PHP File

A PHP file appears as a notepad file. To write PHP code or read a file that you’ve already created, you’ll need to download a programme to edit the code. Otherwise, you won’t be able to put these lines of code onto your server.

Which programme do you need to write PHP?
You'll need special characters to code in PHP. (Source: DomAlberts)

The editor is a programme that allows you to write code. You can use a simple word processor like those found in LibreOffice, OpenOffice, or Microsoft Office. That said, some functions aren’t available in these office suites.

Here are some programmes you can use to read and write PHP:

  • Notepad++
  • Dreamweaver,
  • Komodo Edi
  • TextEdit
  • Etc.

Once installed, the programme will allow you to use all the characters for writing your code and creating a PHP file. You just need to save the file onto your computer in a format that can be read by a browser. When you save your file, make sure it’s a PHP file so that it can be read.

Most of these programmes are free and can be downloaded. This has helped make PHP very accessible. In fact, PHP is an open-source programming language. This means that anyone can use or modify it. It’s, therefore, very easy to find tools.

Testing the File on a Web Server

Once you’ve got your PHP file, there are a few ways you can read it in a browser. You can do this through a server that you’re renting or by emulating a server on your computer with a special programme.

How do you open a PHP file on a server?
You'll be able to look at your work online. (Source: StockSnap)

You need to know that copying and pasting your PHP code won’t do anything. To display a PHP file online, you need the code to be interpreted by a server.

In order to see what your PHP code does, you’ll need to rent a server. A server is a computer that’s usually more powerful than your typical computer. This computer is connected to the internet and offers web hosting. To access a server, you need to use its IP address. The address is a series of numbers separated by full-stops.

It’s easy to rent a server. There are plenty of websites offering affordable rates. You can pay monthly or rent one for a specific period of time. You’ll be given an IP address. You can use this server to display your PHP file in a browser.

Once you’ve rented your server, you just need to upload your PHP file to the server and put it in a public folder. Finally, you can have a look at how your PHP code is interpreted by the server by typing in your domain name, a slash, your public folder, another slash, and your PHP filename.

Check out our article on using PHP with WordPress.

Opening a PHP File without Renting a Server

Another way to have a look at your work is by using a programme that emulates a server. This solution means that you won’t need to rent a server. In fact, some people just want to practise coding without having to create websites.

How do you read a PHP file?
Programming code can be difficult to understand at first. (Source: 3844328)

You could use a programme called XAMPP. You can find it online and download it. It’s compatible with operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Unix, and Linux.

Once you’ve installed it, you can use it to emulate a server. You can import PHP files or create them. You can correct PHP files in the programme without having to go back to your notepad.

To use XAMPP, launch the programme, Apache, and MySQL. This will allow you to test the programme. To import your files, you’ll need to launch the FTP.

To read a PHP file, you just need to input the address of the file in the browser and hit enter. The address will always start with “http://localhost” followed by your PHP file. And that’s it!

Find out more about the advantages of PHP.

What You Need to Know to Read a PHP File

Using PHP isn’t always intuitive for beginners. To make sure you start off on the right foot, here’s some advice to help you.

Before you start using PHP, you need to install a PHP engine on your computer. Everything can be found on PHP.net. You’ll find the latest version of PHP (version 7). New versions come with new functions and features.

To make sure that you don’t lose everything when modifying code, make sure you save a second copy of your code elsewhere.

Files can contain several programming languages at once. In the case of PHP, it’s often a mix of PHP and HTML, the most common language for creating static web pages. If your file includes both programming languages, it mightn’t display correctly.

If you use the PHP extension, the HTML lines won’t be displayed. If you use the HTML extension, the PHP lines won’t be interpreted by the server. To test a file, you need to test each part individually.

Finally, practise writing simple lines of code and then move on to more complicated stuff. Don’t go too quickly as you can easily get discouraged by code that’s full of errors. If you want to become a web developer, start off easy!

If you're interested in object-oriented programming, learning more about a scripting language, Perl, web development, PHP programming, web applications, server-side scripting, JavaScript, Python, MySQL, Zend, or Apache, for example, get in touch with the tutors on Superprof!

Professions In PHP

If you love working away at your computer creating websites and all sorts of other databases but aren't sure how to chase this as a profession, then let us tell you what your next move should be!

The student website Prospects explains that PHP and other programming languages are used primarily by web developers:

"Web developers build and maintain websites and web applications. Although their work usually focuses solely on the underlying software and databases (known as the 'back end'), some web developers work on the interface and visual design (the 'front end'), while others combine both ('full-stack development').

In an agency or as a freelancer, a web developer's job is to create products that meet clients' needs. The work can be particularly varied with many projects to work on simultaneously and lots of meetings with clients to discuss their requirements and update them on progress.

In all cases a web developer's primary task is creating reliable and high performing applications and services, which can be accessed over the internet. Job titles vary according to the focus of the role.


The day-to-day work of a web developer varies depending on whether they work mainly for clients or in-house for an organisation, but most roles include:

  • writing code in one or more programming or scripting languages, such as PHP or JavaScript
  • planning and prototyping new applications
  • designing the architecture of the components of an application
  • deciding on the best technologies and languages for the project
  • testing sites and applications in different browsers and environments
  • problem solving
  • fixing bugs in existing projects
  • testing new features thoroughly to ensure they perform the correct task in all cases
  • running performance benchmarking tests
  • reviewing colleagues' code
  • building and testing Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for applications to exchange data
  • researching, incorporating and contributing to Open Source projects
  • meeting designers, developers and project staff for progress updates
  • gathering requirements from clients and users
  • learning and testing new technologies, frameworks and languages
  • staying up to date with new trends and advancements in web development
  • building and maintaining databases
  • refactoring and optimising existing code
  • documenting code so other developers can understand and contribute to it
  • attending and speaking at web development conferences and workshops
  • designing information architecture within an application or website."

Does this sound like the perfect job for you? Here's what training you'll need first!

There is no set path to becoming a web developer, so whilst some employers might ask for a technical degree, others may be happy to interview you with a diploma in computer science, software engineering or web development. That said, prospective employers will want to see you display a certain level of skill in the area, so be sure to tell them in your CV, application or in your face to face interview about your knowledge of server-side languages, as well as any experience you have had with web applications or databases.

Moreover, be sure to demonstrate attention to detail, logical thinking, timekeeping, good communication skills and the ability to work alone or in a team.

If you've just secured a job as web developer, then here are a few pointers from Prospects.ac.uk in terms of what you can expect from the industry and role.

  • "Remote work and self-employment are common as the only equipment needed is a good quality computer and internet connection. Companies may advertise for web developers on a completely remote basis.
  • Women are currently under-represented in the IT industry as a whole but the issue is being addressed by the sector. Organisations such as Code First: Girls, Women in Technology, Rails Girls and GeekGirlMeetup have been set up to provide communities, vacancies and educational tools for women wanting to work in web development and IT.
  • There is currently a skills shortage for programming and development roles so opportunities are good for those with the right combination of skills. In 2016, web development accounted for around a third of all IT vacancies (Tech Cities Job Watch, 2016).
  • In the UK, most office-based web development roles are in cities. London, Manchester and Leeds were the top three cities for web development vacancies in 2016 (Tech Cities Job Watch, 2016).
  • Dress code is usually informal except when meeting clients where you'll be expected to dress smartly.
  • A small amount of travel is common in client-focused roles to meet clients over the course of a project. There will usually be opportunities to travel to conferences and workshops."

Learning PHP

Learning PHP With Superprof

Superprof lets you search through a wide database of tutors. All you need to do is enter your postcode and the subject you’re looking for a tutor for, and you’ll be shown all the available tutors in your area, as well as those offering remote tuition.

There are three types of tutorials available on the platform: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials and each type has its pros and cons.

Face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive but they're also the most cost-effective since you'll be the only student in the class and the tutor can focus entirely on you.

Online tutorials tend to cost less since the tutor doesn't have to worry about their travel costs to and from the student. While these aren't ideal for subjects that require a hands-on approach, they can be really effective for technical subjects like IT.

Group tutorials are usually the cheapest per hour since the cost of the lesson is shared amongst all of the students in attendance. Of course, this does mean that you'll get less personal attention from your tutor.

Don't forget that a lot of the tutors also offer the first hour of tutoring for free. You can use this time to see if you get along with them if their teaching approaches are right for you, and discuss what you want and expect from your private tutorials.

Alternatively, you can opt for classes at an institution near you.

MET College Brighton - PHP and MYSQL

"Course overview

Course Type: Adult qualifications and professional, Adult leisure and hobby, Open to international students Campus: Central Brighton Campus Entry requirements: You must be competent using folders, editing text and navigating around the C:drive.

Why this course?

This IT course aims to provide a practical introduction to programming server side applications with PHP and MySQL.

Server-side processing is at the core of many major websites whether you're shopping online, booking a plane ticket online, or simply leaving a message on your favourite social media site."

City London Web Programming using PHP/MySQL Part 1 Short Course

"Key information

Duration:10 weekly classes
Time:18:30 - 20:30
Course Code:CS1559
Location:Northampton Square

Why choose this course?

This short course will enable those already familiar with HTML to build more powerful web solutions and advance to dynamic, database-enabled, website/intranet programming and applications using the open-source PHP scripting language and MySQL database.

The Web Programming using PHP and MySQL short course is aimed at those who have successfully completed the Building Websites with HTML5 and CSS3 or have a good understanding of HTML and how web pages work.

This practical course takes place over ten weekly evenings in our central London location.

Course overview

The short course broadly comprises the fundamentals of programming with PHP, relational database design and operations with MySQL, and web solutions using PHP and MySQL.

By the end of the short course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the basics of programming in PHP
  • Write and debug procedural PHP scripts
  • Understand fundamental relational database concepts
  • Design a relational database suitable for a blog
  • Code a simple content management system
  • Understand the importance of web application security.

Teaching & assessment

What will I learn?

PHP, MySQL, LAMP: what they are and what they do. Static vs dynamic pages. Client-side vs server-side scripting. Obtaining PHP and MySQL software. Resources and tools e.g. manuals, books, websites, and development environments. Using XAMPP as a development environment.

Basics of programming with PHP - variables, constants, data types, operators, expressions, control structures & decision making, functions, type-casting, program flow. Documenting your code. Simple templating with PHP. Organising your application. Finding and fixing bugs in your code. HTTP client-server communication: HTTP headers, server response codes.

MySQL: What is SQL. Relational databases vs spreadsheets. MySQL in the terminal. Relational database design. MySQL's data types. CRUD operations: create, read, update and delete data. Primary, foreign and unique keys. Getting results from more than one table: joins. One-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many relationships. Column and table aliases. Changing table structure. Table types. Aggregate queries.

PHP, MySQL and Apache admin: php.ini, my.ini & httpd.conf. Understanding PHP errors.

PHP and MySQL on the web: Connecting to MySQL using PHP. Querying the database and using the results. Dynamic templating. Single and multi-article templates. PHP's superglobals. Accepting user input through the URL and forms. Forms: validation and giving user feedback. Database CRUD operations through a web front end. Defensive programming. Security considerations. Working as a web developer. What to learn next.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the basics of programming in PHP
  • Write and debug procedural PHP scripts
  • Understand fundamental relational database concepts
  • Design a simple relational database
  • Code a simple content management system
  • Understand the importance of web application security"

Work out what's best for you and soon you'll be an expert in PHP!

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